The good news is fashion and style no longer come with an unyielding set of dos and don’ts. The bad news is fashion and style no longer come with an unyielding set of dos and don’ts.

Never before have we been so free to create our ideal visual expression of self through what we choose to buy and wear.

As women, we are no longer bound by the out-dated and often insulting fashion mantras that generations of women before us were forced to navigate. (Never leave the house naked still applies. Just to be clear).

In the past two decades we’ve experienced a giant leap away from matching our shoes to our bag for example. And although that particular dictate appears to be creeping its way back in, this time around, it is completely optional.

Similarly, the suggestion that a woman should dress her age is officially cancelled. An objectifying and pre-historic binding that has well and truly been broken by some incredible 40 plus fashion mavens (my personal favourites Ven’s Wife Style and Grece Ghanem) who refuse to bow to the nonsensical ruling of the court of ‘who actually cares what they think anyway’. Ninety is quite literally the new 20.

And the rule breaking continues, including:

  • athleisure as a permanent fashion fixture (even for work, thanks very much COVID19)
  • socks with open-toed shoes (admittedly not my favourite and probably best left to the street style set)
  • sequins during the day; and
  • navy mixed with black (which would have left our grandmothers clutching their pearls).

But with fashion freedom comes a potential tsunami of sartorial overwhelm that might have us longing for the days when rules ruled.

Particularly when it comes to the cluster-frock that is ‘smart or business casual’.

So how do you balance this welcome flex in fashion with the need to buy and wear outfits that effortlessly reflect your personality and lifestyle, without it feeling like another job that has the potential to set your teeth on edge. In the age of ‘almost anything goes’ how do you develop your style without drowning in a turbid sea of fashion?

A cracking place to start is to decide which of these three over-arching style preferences leaves you feeling like you’re heading in the right direction.

Let me show you what I mean:

  1. Classic – a timeless blend of basic or foundational pieces that in no way equates to boring
  2. Contemporary – the perfect balance of basic and bang*
  3. Fashion Forward – a symphony of bang and bang that screams style success as opposed to hot blithering mess.

*Bang – statement pieces of clothing that add something a little unexpected to your outfits. It might be the cut, the fabric, the pattern/colour, the details or all of the above that render this bang rather than basic.

While some stylish chameleons will enthusiastically straddle all three broad categories, most women have a dominant style preference, with a secondary tendency depending on the day. For example, I am predominantly contemporary sometimes moving to fashion forward but rarely classic.

Reflecting on the categories above, which one speaks to you most strongly? This is your dominant style preference.

Visuals are always handy so here are a few to get you off the blocks.









And there you have it! Next time you’re lamenting modern-day style’s lack of rules, think back to your dominant style preference (classic, contemporary or fashion forward) and bask in the knowledge that you have a solid formula to tackle the uncertainty (basic+basic, basic+bang or bang+bang).

Pretty soon your outfits will build themselves. Automagically (yup, I really just wrote that).

Please reach out and let me know if you found this helpful!

Hi, I’m Nicole, and I’m a personal stylist obsessed with helping women in business and corporate roles to experience effortless, stylish dressing, allowing them to stand out for all the right reasons. I bring strategy, solutions and expertise to my clients. I fully understand the challenges women face when trying to achieve a wardrobe that actually works and I take the pain out of shopping for clothes and deciding what to wear. I transform something that feels fraught and complex into a streamlined solution expertly tailored to you.

Image: Fi Mims Photography and Net a Porter